Xpress Reviews: Audiobooks | First Look at New Books, August 9, 2013

Week ending August 9, 2013

Ahmad, A.X. The Caretaker. 9 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 11 hrs. Macmillan Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781427231000. $39.99; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Ahmad’s debut is a fast-paced, beautifully written story of a man whose poor choices have ruined his life. Forced to leave India in disgrace, Ranjit Singh has gone from a respected Indian Army commander to an undocumented person working as a caretaker on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts to support his family. When a bad decision puts him in the middle of two crises, one personal and the other concerning international security, Singh finds himself poised to lose all that is important to him. Sam Dastor does a great job of narrating and portraying the characters, keeping the listener glued to the story.
Verdict Recommended to fans of fiction audiobooks. [“Weaving together Singh’s Sikh faith with very personal moments, taut action sequences, and events with international significance, Ahmad’s thriller should have broad appeal,” read the starred review of the Minotaur: St. Martin’s hc, LJ 4/1/13.—Ed.]—Sharon Redfern, Rockville P.L., Vernon, CT

Allende, Isabel. Maya’s Notebook. 12 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 14½ hrs. Harper Audio. 2013. tr. from Spanish by Anne McLean. ISBN 9780062121561. $27.99; digital download. F
Following the death of her beloved grandfather, teenager Maya falls into a tailspin of depression, drugs, and crime. When Maya is threatened by dangerous criminal forces, her grandmother arranges for her escape to the remote Chilean island of Chiloé. Only there, living with a reclusive anthropologist, does Maya begin to shed her hardened outer shell and rediscover what she truly values in her life. The narration moves skillfully between Maya’s gritty downward spiral and her time hiding and recuperating in Chile. Maria Cabezas’s steady, airy reading lends Maya the perfect voice in this thoughtful story of loss, the forging of meaningful relationships, and the patience and kindness we must allow ourselves.
Verdict Recommended to Allende’s (The House of the Spirits) many fans, as well as to all listeners who appreciate stories of loss and redemption. [“Allende paints a vivid picture contrasting Maya’s drug-clouded past and her recovery in Chiloé. Yet another accomplished work by a master storyteller that will enthrall and captivate. This is a must-read,” read the starred review of the HarperCollins hc, LJ 4/15/13.—Ed.]—Amy Koester, St. Charles City-Cty. Lib. Dist., Wentzville, MO

Coonts, Stephen. Pirate Alley. (Grafton & Carmellini, Bk. 3). 8 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 10 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781423334682. $79.97; 1 MP3-CD. library ed.; Playaway digital; digital download. F
Jake Grafton and Tommy Carmellini team up again in this tense and action-packed thriller set in the Horn of Africa. A cruise ship is hijacked by Somali pirates demanding a ransom of $200 million for the crew and passengers. After an initial rescue attempt fails, an informant provides intel about a much more serious conspiracy connected to the piracy, and Jake, Tommy, and some Navy SEALs must save the day. Eric G. Dove’s performance is spirited and expressive. He gives all of the many characters believable accents, from British and German to American and Somali. The narrative is read with an equal verve and expression.
Verdict Recommended for listeners who enjoy nonstop action. [“Coonts’s latest Grafton and Carmellini adventure (after The Disciple and The Traitor) is tense, timely, exciting, and totally enjoyable. Even though part of a series, the novel stands alone more than nicely,” read the review of the St. Martin’s hc, LJ Xpress Reviews, 4/26/13.—Ed.]—Michael T. Fein, Central Virginia Community Coll., Lynchburg

King, Owen. Double Feature. 13 CDs. library ed. unabridged. 16 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2013. ISBN 9781470344832. $123.75; 2 MP3-CDs. library ed.; digital download. F
Sam Dolan has always wanted to direct movies, though he’s done his best to distance himself from the legacy of his father, a notorious philanderer and B movie actor. Sam’s first film becomes a cult classic when his assistant producer takes it upon himself to do some severe editing and add pornographic footage. Walking away from the disaster he considers his film to have become, Sam makes a living as a wedding videographer (although he hates weddings). Holter Graham’s narration is adequate, with minor changes to differentiate one character from another, but the voice for Sam is oddly flat, perhaps to denote a lack of connection with his life and story. End of disc messages are helpful since the pauses between sections and chapters are overlong and could easily be mistaken for the end of a disc. There will be demand for this audiobook since it is the first novel by the youngest son of author Stephen King and has garnered positive reviews.
Verdict Recommend to fans of quirky family stories. [“Fans of John Irving, Tom Perrotta, Jonathan Tropper, and Nick Hornby will appreciate this urban family tale liberally dosed with humor,” read the review of the Scribner hc, LJ 2/15/13.—Ed.]—Suanne Roush, Seminole, FL

Percy, Benjamin. Red Moon. 18 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 22 hrs. Hachette Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781478952091. $25.98; 12 CDs. library ed.; digital download. F
In Percy’s (The Wilding) fantasy, werewolves have coexisted alongside humans since the seventh century. Outside their northern European homeland, the Lycan are a discriminated against minority, forced to take drugs to prevent their transformation from person to wolf. In addition, American armed forces have occupied the Lycan Republic to control its uranium reserves. In retaliation, the werewolves resort to terrorism. Clair’s Lycan parents were killed by government agents after a terrorist attack. She escapes and hides out with an aunt in Oregon. Patrick goes to live with his mother in the same town following his father’s deployment to the Lycan Republic. The book’s premise holds the possibility of examining contemporary political, racial, and sexual issues. However, the slow pace of the story fails to hold listeners’ attention. The author, who reads here, does not do a particularly good job.
Verdict A disappointment; not recommended. [“This literary thriller by an award-winning young writer will excite fans of modern horror who enjoy a large canvas and a history to go with their bloody action,” read the much more enthusiastic starred review of the Grand Central hc, LJ 3/1/13.—Ed.]—Stephen L. Hupp, West Virginia Univ. Parkersburg Lib.

Trollope, Anthony. The Warden. (Chronicles of Barsetshire, Bk. 1). 6 CDs. retail ed. unabridged. 7½ hrs. Naxos Audio. 2013. ISBN 9781843796862. $41.98; digital download. F
Septimus Harding is a simple clergyman whose life is turned upside down when he is accused of graft and corruption by so-called social reformers. However, who is really on trial here, the Church of England, the news sheets, the publicity seekers? This first book in Trollope’s most famous work is a fascinating exploration of 19th-century British clerical culture. David Shaw-Parker’s beautiful and expressive voice enhances the listening experience.
Verdict Recommended for readers who enjoy classic 19th-century English literature and/or church-related fiction.—I. Pour-El, Des Moines Area Community Coll., Ames, IA

Bette-Lee Fox About Bette-Lee Fox

Bette-Lee Fox (blfox@mediasourceinc.com) is Managing Editor, Library Journal.

Now in her 46th year with Library Journal, Bette-Lee also edits LJ's Video Reviews column, six times a year Romance column, and e-original Romance reviews, which post weekly as LJ Xpress Reviews. She received the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Vivian Stephens Industry Award in 2013 for having "contributed to the genre or to RWA in a significant and/or continuing manner"